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Hands Clapping by Liza Visagie (South Africa/ Canada)

Updated: May 4, 2018

Growing up in the Apartheid era catapulted me into becoming an artist. I had to find a language to somehow react and respond to the madness and injustice. I have always believed that art is a universal language.

It is our basic human need and desire to communicate and interact with each other, transcending different cultures and speaking to our common humanity. Through creativity we can all work together. 

My paintings are not overtly social, grand or political, but are quiet, methodically even obsessively chiseling away at themes and images that was born from growing up in South Africa. Compositions and pictorial perspective is filled with tension with a search for balance. The tone of my paintings are somewhat defiant edging me on to find peace. The need for peace is the reason I paint.

We have to stand on the shoulders of giants. Past, present and future freedom fighters and master artist, those who strive to give all humanity a voice, those who have worked and sacrificed everything towards harmony and peace. Artist must adopt the role of social and personal responsibility and accountability. Perhaps it might be possible to see a world where nations and cultures can leave behind a legacy of beauty, peace and great art and not war and suffering.

After matriculating from the Johannesburg School for the Arts with honors in drawing, printmaking and painting, I started my Fine Arts studies at UNISA, University of South Africa. However my studies were cut short as I emigrated with my family to Canada.

Hands Clapping by Liza Visagie

I pursued self directed studies as a printmaker and in 1999 I completed my BFA at ECIAD. Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver. My chosen medium at the time was photo based. In 2001 my focus from photographic installation shifted to painting. I felt the need to return to the  medium of oil painting and I started an apprenticeship with Canadian painter Paul Chizik. Mr Chizik had trained in Italy and the USA. His boundless knowledge of traditional oil painting techniques and methods and his innovative contemporary approach has been unprecedented in my growth as a painter.

I have been working as an artist since 1993, participating in various group and solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally. My work has been collected by private and corporate collectors in Canada, USA, South Africa, Amsterdam and Berlin.

A large part of my painting practice is the study of painting directly from life, whether it being narrative based paintings or landscape paintings. I place a strong emphasis on working in the tradition of plein-air painting where the shapes, tones and colors  found in nature become the language I use throughout my work. As a painter, I am concerned with the study and technical mastery of my chosen medium, oil painting. Being a skilled manipulator of this craft opens new ways of being an artist.


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